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A well, a woman, a town and true refreshment

April 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Click the picture above for a great monologue inspired by the ‘Woman at the Well’ story.

‘Jesus answered her, If you had only known and had recognised God’s gift and Who this is that is saying to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him [instead] and He would have given you living water.’ (John 4:10 AMP) Read the whole story here

From where and how do we get refreshed?
Do you know anyone that seems to ‘survive’, from one holiday to the next? Holidays and leisure activities are good things, but, is it possible we rely too much on these for refreshment? Perhaps Jesus is saying to us today, “if only you had known”! So what is stopping us? Perhaps it is recognition? Recognition sometimes implies the giving of respect, eg “so and so was recognised for his work with . .” So maybe Jesus is saying if only you had recognised (and respected) the giver and the gift . . I could have refreshed you?

Recognise the Giver
We were examining this passage (the woman at the well) at house group this week. I felt or had the impression that God was saying it was His pleasure to refresh and indeed give us ‘life’. That is, healing and restoration, for the soul, spirit and the body. We drink water regularly for the body and our Father wants us to drink regularly of what He has to offer too! It is His pleasure.

Recognise God’s gift
We also recognise the giver by what He does for us. So if you found you were refreshed by going to a particular place or by a particular action, then even if you don’t understand how, go there and do it again! As an example, at house group recently after reading the woman at the well story, a number of people shared in an intimate way, how they had ‘drank’ in the past. These included: through dreams and then waking with God speaking to them; an experience of fatherly love with almost the physical arms of God around them after hearing the prodigal son story and talk; feeling lifted up in worship whilst being an evening guest for while at another church, which helped refresh when facing a difficult time; going to a wedding where two people who had got divorced married each other again, in a moment when a Christian used the phrase, ‘got a heart for it’ and another Christian recognised this as a Christian way of talking and doing business that was different. At the end of the meeting we all dipped our hands into a bowl of water whilst someone said, ‘may streams of living water flow within you’, whilst the rest of us held our hands toward them to bless them. We recognised that we can refresh each other through the Holy Spirit outflowing from us.

Recognise Grace
It seems to me that Jesus chose what may have been the lowliest woman in that village to bring his blessing. We need to be ‘laid down’ to receive, not from shame, but through humility. We can see that this woman was not willing to receive because she made various objections. We too can make objections to receiving. Recognise any of these thoughts and feelings? ‘I’m not good enough, I don’t deserve it’, ‘It’s not biblical’, ‘It’s not my style’, ‘these experiences are for a particular purpose, rarely come around, therefore not for me’. Next time you have one of these thoughts or something similar, why not decide they are going to be a trigger to receive, recognising that your Father gives freely, no strings attached?

Final thought
Both the woman at the well and the towns folk took a risk and made themselves vulnerable to ridicule. Are we prepared to take a risk in order to receive refreshing? Having once made the decision to make ourselves vulnerable, we can know that our Father is big enough to look after us. Our brothers and sisters also love us and we can expect God’s grace and goodness to extend through them to us, as we explore new ways to receive.

For meditation: In one part of the story the word well comes from the Greek word for fountain . .

“They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.” Psalm 36:8,9 NKJV Read the whole Psalm here

Bless you
Andy

ps I am running in the Manchester 10k with ‘Loverunning Manchester’ if you would like to sponsor me please click link below which shows the charities we are running for, Christies, CAP and Tear Fund, thank you!

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Warrior or Passenger?

April 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Warriors or Passengers?

Are we warriors or passengers? Are our churches producing warriors or passengers? Do you want to be a warrior prince, a warrior princes or just a passenger?
There is an army rising up, are we ready to join? Click on picture below to listen to ‘Break Every Chain’, a song about the power of the name of Jesus and ‘an army rising up’.

Or if you are hungry click here for hungry song

Do you have a ‘Frontline’, or are you aware of what a ‘Frontline’ is? A frontline is where troops are massed to face the enemy’s frontline. We all have a front line whether we know it or not. The question is , how do we get prepared for service on the front line? Before we try to answer that question, lets see what we think we know or what our feelings might be, about the front line.

First of all it’s a scary place to be. In the BBC series ‘Downton Abbey’, one of the servants found himself on the frontline in the First World War. He was so miserable and scared there that he deliberately held his hand up above the trench so that it would be shot through. Now wounded he could get out of the frontline and be discharged permanently. Perhaps that’s how we feel sometimes? We would like to be discharged permanently? After all the job of being on the front line is for specialists isn’t it? You know, missionary types, those with the gift of evangelism. I’m quite happy to make out a standing order to support such people and of course pray for them, but, actually be on the frontline, no! In fact, when I stop to think about it my gifts are administration and hospitality, pastoral care or worship? So with all that that entails I’m very busy. Of course when the church engages in outreach then I want to help, but, only in the background, a supporting role so to speak, that’s fair enough isn’t it? Actually it does sound fair enough when you consider the way most churches are organised and the accepted culture found in many of our churches. Is there a hint of this in your church?

What do I mean by that? Well, as described above and what I want to say is that we are often left alone on our front lines. By that I mean, we hear a sermon or talk on Sunday that may be excellent from an expository point of view. Such talks may even try and point us to how we should think and behave in our daily lives, i.e. where we spend most of our time, eg work, school, college, home with family/friends etc. More often, however, it is left to us to make the mental/emotional/spiritual translation when we hear a talk, then we are left to, ‘do our best’ on our front lines. Perhaps we should not be overly surprised to find our best is not that great? Sounds critical, sorry, I just think we need to see change and of course I have generalised in order to make a point. So what can we do, personally and in our churches?
Personally:
“If with heart and soul you’re doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you’re still better off. Don’t give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They’ll end up realising that they’re the ones who need a bath. “
(1 Peter 3: 13-16 , The Message) 1 Peter 3: 13-16 AMP

On our front line: we are not on our own, we have fellow soldiers available to support us, let’s remember to share with someone what is going on and pray!
We have authority, in Jesus name everything must bow, whether sin, sickness, guilt or fear, so pray in Jesus name!
Remain intimate and seek encounters with Jesus, the Holy Spirit and your heavenly Father. This will strengthen you, as it did Daniel ‘Then again, the one having the likeness of a man touched me and strengthened me.’
Daniel 10:18 NKJV
It is easier to offer to pray for and even with someone, than to try and explain the gospel to them, so try that as your response to people when they share their woes with you. Never the less work our something simple to say about your faith/relationship with Jesus your friend.

Churchwise:
Along with our fellow brothers and sisters it is a very difficult thing to get us from ‘here’ to ‘there’. That is to move ourselves from our comfortable place to our front lines. A complete change of mind set is required. For example, no longer will resources be directed exclusively to our ‘doing mission’ together or to seeker friendly services or ‘attractive’ and ‘open’ activities. No longer should we necessarily expect that the minister or indeed the pastoral care team, care for us in return for our attendance and giving. In fact, we should expect that in return for our signing up to be soldiers, we receive support to fight on our front lines, ie where we are.
What would a church like that look like?

If anyone has any ideas on how we could effect such a transformation in our churches, why not reply and I’ll gather answers together and send them out in the next email

We know thatour heavenly Father only draws us along with cords of love and He is very gracious to us. So don’t beat yourself up! In fact He loves us far more than anything we could ever do for Him. So seek Him first, seek the gifts He has for you, experience Him and His love. If we do this we will soon see we can’t help but be on our front lines!

Bless you in Jesus name
Andy

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